Complete Streets Bill And Paths Funding Passes MA Senate

[caption id="attachment_21909" align="aligncenter" width="612"] People riding bikes on the Southwest Corridor in Jamaica Plain. Photo: Cycle Style Boston[/caption]

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate voted to approve the Transportation Bond Bill. The great news is that they voted to preserve $50 million for a Complete Streets incentive program, and $377 million over the next five years for bike and pedestrian paths. MassBike joins its Active Streets partners Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Massachusetts Public Health Association, WalkBoston, Transportation For Massachusetts, and Massachusetts YMCAs, who together coordinated efforts to advance this legislation, in celebrating this development.

According to MassBike Executive Director David Watson, "the $377 million for bike and pedestrian project funding is a victory and represents a major increase. We're not done yet - we still need to convince MassDOT to spend more than the $130 million for paths in the current Capital Investment Plan - but we've taken another step toward giving MassDOT the bonding flexibility to do more."

Throughout this process, MassBike continued its role as the voice for bicyclists in statewide advocacy efforts. After testifying at the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, we met together with our coalition partners and the staff of committee chairman Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton). MassBike met individually with committee member State Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington).

In addition, we sent action alerts to organizations in our statewide advocacy network, and also alerted our members in Senator Joyce's district to ask them to call or email in support of the funding. A big thanks goes out to those who voiced their support. This coordinated effort was pivotal in ensuring that the funding remained at the $377 million level.

The Transportation Bond Bill now goes to conference where the House and Senate will reconcile differences in each version. After that, it returns to both chambers for approval.

Virtual Lobby Day: This Wednesday, Tell Congress To Support Biking!

[caption id="attachment_21823" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo: James D. Schwartz[/caption]

As we MassBike staffers cross our collective fingers for smooth travels to Washington, DC for the National Bike Summit with snow in the forecast, we want you to know about your opportunity to tell Congress to support bicycling, all from the comfort and warmth of your own home or office. Yes, the time has come once again for MassBike's National Bike Summit Virtual Lobby Day!


This Wednesday, March 5, join your fellow constituents from across Massachusetts in calling, emailing, and/or tweeting your representative and senators. The good news for us Bay Staters is that all of our legislators strongly support bicycling, but we still need to show our numbers and ask them to co-sponsor specific pieces of legislation.

In this post you will find all you need to successfully participate in Virtual Lobby Day, including this year's "asks", and detailed contact info for your Senators and Representative.

The Asks




*** UPDATED 3/4: Because our Senators and Representatives are so bike-friendly, a lot of them have already signed on as co-sponsors of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494)! If your Representative is one of the following, please thank them for co-sponsoring, rather than ask them to co-sponsor, when you call, email, or tweet them: Rep. Mike Capuano, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. Bill Keating, and Rep. Katherine Clark. Senator Markey is also a sponsor of the Senate version of this bill (S 1708), so please thank him for his co-sponsorship when you contact him. Finally, if you are in Rep. John Tierney's district, please thank him for cosponsoring the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494) AND New Opportunities For Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure (HR 3978).

We recommend calling your Senators' and Representative's offices so they (or their staff) can hear the voices of their constituents directly. It's great to have their phones ringing off the hook all day, and it is also the easiest way to get in touch with them. Tell your Senators and Representative what bicycling means to you, your family, or your business – your personal story matters!

Whether you are calling, emailing, or tweeting, the sample emails we've provided below contain the specific "asks", and are a helpful reference no matter how you reach out. We encourage you to use these as a starting point for your own personal message, but feel free use them as they are. We've adapted the bullet points from the League of American Bicyclists's very helpful info page, which we strongly encourage you to review.

If you reach out by phone or email, send an email to action@massbike.org to let us know.

For the House of Representatives
Dear Representative ______________:

As a constituent who strongly supports providing more opportunities for people to use bicycles for transportation because of the many benefits it offers for our health, environment, and mobility, I am writing to you today to urge you to co-sponsor the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494) would require the U.S. Department of Transportation set a specific performance measure for non-motorized safety, as well as for motorized safety. The number of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities has risen for the past three years (2010 -2012) while overall traffic deaths have gone down dramatically. Without it, people who bike and walk will remain in the blindspot of our transportation system.

  • The Safe Streets Act (HR 2468) would ensure that all streets are designed, planned and built with all users in mind, including bicyclists and pedestrians. This bill will make streets safer for people driving cars, walking, biking and taking public transit — at little or no extra cost, and will not trigger any new federal spending.

  • The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act of 2014 (HR 3978) would take steps to advance equity for bicyclists and pedestrians, and offer mayors and communities a new tool for funding for bike/ped projects in low-income communities.


Thank you for your past and future support of bicycling.

Sincerely,
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number

For the Senate
Dear Senator  ______________:

As a constituent who strongly supports providing more opportunities for people to use bicycles for transportation because of the many benefits it offers for our health, environment, and mobility, I am writing to you today to urge you to co-sponsor the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (S 1708) would require the U.S. Department of Transportation set a specific performance measure for non-motorized safety, as well as for motorized safety. The number of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities has risen for the past three years (2010 -2012) while overall traffic deaths have gone down dramatically. Without it, people who bike and walk will remain in the blindspot of our transportation system.

  • The Safe Streets Act (S 2004) would ensure that all streets are designed, planned and built with all users in mind, including bicyclists and pedestrians. This bill will make streets safer for people driving cars, walking, biking and taking public transit — at little or no extra cost, and will not trigger any new federal spending.


Thank you for your past and future support of bicycling.

Sincerely,
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number

Twitter

If you use Twitter, tweeting directly to your Senators and Rep is a great way to let them know you want them to take action! You can find their Twitter handles below in 'Contact Info'. Of course, you can always come up with your own creative messaging - for instance, you could write one tweet for each bill - but we've provided some samples to get you started:

  • For your Rep: “[@RepX] Pls support bike safety and co-sponsor HR 3494, HR 2468 & HR 3978! #NBS14 #MassBike

  • For your Senators: “[@SenX] Pls support bike safety and co-sponsor S 1708 & S 2004! #NBS14 #MassBike


Be sure to use and follow the hashtags #NBS14 and #MassBike to stay in on the action!

Contact Info

If you'd like to send an email, please note you will have to use their online contact form. We've provided links to their online contact form which you can access by clicking on their name below. In most cases you will need to know your Zip Code + 4, which you can look up here, before you can proceed in submitting an email message.

House of Representatives































































District Rep Name Office Number Twitter
1 Richard Neal 202-225-5601 @RepRichardNeal
2 Jim McGovern 202-225-6101 @RepMcGovern
3 Niki Tsongas 202-225-3411 @Nikiinthehouse
4 Joseph Kennedy III 202-225-5931 @RepJoeKennedy
5 Katherine Clark 202-225-2836 @RepKClark
6 John Tierney 202-225-8020 @RepTierney
7 Mike Capuano 202-225-5111 N/A
8 Stephen Lynch 202-225-8273 @RepStephenLynch
9 Bill Keating 202-225-3111 @USRepKeating

Don’t know who your U.S. Representative is? Click here and enter your zip code to find out.

Senate


















Senator Name Office Number Twitter
Elizabeth Warren 202-224-4543 @SenWarren
Ed Markey 202-224-2742 @MarkeyMemo

 




Boston Speaks Up For Protected Bike Lanes

[caption id="attachment_21814" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Photo: Jon Ramos/Southie Bikes[/caption]

At a crowded meeting Wednesday night at Boston City Hall, attendees packed into Room 801 to review the 25% design plans for the Connect Historic Boston bike trail and share their thoughts on the project.

One after another, citizens came up to the microphone to voice their support for the proposed network of cycle tracks around downtown Boston and the North End. A common theme expressed by many speakers was how this project would not just serve those who already ride bikes, but inspire new people to try riding for both transportation and recreation.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson spoke in favor of the project, saying, "Some people doubted Hubway when it was first launched, but it has quickly become part of the city's fabric faster than anyone imaged. So too will this project become a part of the fabric of Boston."

He added that, while he is generally in favor of the current design, he wanted to see particular attention paid to the intersection treatment and signal timing, and more consideration given to how commuter cyclists will enter and exit the cycle track on Causeway Street.

You can review detailed plans and meeting minutes from past public meetings on the project here.

Save The Date: Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit 2014



Mark your calendars! MassBike and WalkBoston are pleased to invite you to join bicycle and pedestrian advocates from across the Commonwealth at the 3rd Annual Bike/Walk Summit on April 3rd from 10 AM - 1 PM at the State House. Our speaker will be Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett from the Department of Public Health.

Please register here if you are planning to attend. The Bike/Walk Summit is free and open to the public.

This year's summit will have two main focus areas:

  • Mass in Motion: We will educate our legislators about Mass in Motion programs and other regional and local walking and biking efforts throughout Massachusetts. These programs demonstrate that state investment in active transportation pays off for communities. MassBike and WalkBoston have been working alongside Mass in Motion coordinators and we will be sharing best practices for use in other communities.

  • Legislation: We want individuals to ask their state senator and representative to report favorably to their chamber's chair on the Transportation Committee on our two bills: the Vulnerable Road Users (S 1639), and the Bike Lane Protection Bill (S 1640).


Our tentative day-of-event schedule is as follows:

10 AM Check-In at Nurses' Hall
10:30 AM Commissioner Bartlett Presentation on "Expanding opportunities for walking and bicycling in Massachusetts means more than transportation: The Mass in Motion Success Story"
11 AM Meetings with your Representatives and Letter Drop
12 PM Lunch and Networking at Nurses' Hall


Can't make it to Beacon Hill for a one-on-one meeting with your elected official? This year, we're adding a "Letter Drop," which will give participants an opportunity to contact their elected officials about biking and walking opportunities and issues via a hand delivered letter.

If you have any questions, please contact Nathaniel at nathaniel@massbike.org.

Path And Complete Streets Funding Moves Forward In MA Senate

[caption id="attachment_21782" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]

The Massachusetts Senate took an important step toward increasing funding for bicycle and pedestrian paths and other infrastructure this week. The transportation bond bill was reported out of the Senate bonding committee, and is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate next week, where it is expected to pass. MassBike led advocacy efforts that protected $377,255,000 for bicycle and pedestrians paths, and also played a significant role in ensuring $50 million for a Complete Streets certification and incentive program. The bill also provides for an additional $23 million in funding for other bike-related projects.

We thank the members of the Senate bonding committee, including Chairman Brian Joyce (D - Milton) and Senator Ken Donnelly (D - Arlington), for helping to ensure this funding has remained in the bill.

In total, this bill opens up roughly $398 million in bonding authority over the next five years specifically for biking (not including the $50M for Complete Streets), plus additional money for roads, bridges, and sidewalks which should include bicycle facilities where appropriate. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will have to be resolved, but we do not expect changes to either the path or Complete Streets funding.

While this is a very exciting development, the bond bill is not real money yet. It creates a wishlist, and a cap, on how much the state can borrow for the items in the bill. So far, MassDOT has budgeted only $130 million for bike/ped paths over the next five years. While we appreciate MassDOT's significant financial commitment to biking and walking, the bond bill leaves open the possibility that they could do more, and we will continue to advocate for enough funding to truly meet our needs.

We have been working on this campaign for almost a year. Our work included testifying at multiple legislative hearings, sending letters of support, activating our new statewide advocacy network, and in-person meetings with key legislators. With the help and support of our members and partner organizations, we are close to securing significant funding for biking and walking for the next five years.

- David

ACTION ALERT: Speak Up For Protected Bike Lanes In Downtown Boston

[caption id="attachment_21707" align="aligncenter" width="766"] A new vision for Causeway Street. Image: Connect Historic Boston[/caption]

Next Wednesday, February 26, the City of Boston will host a public hearing to present and gather comments on the 25% design of Phase 1 of the Connect Historic Boston bike trail and Constitution Road protected bike lane proposals. MassBike strongly encourages Boston residents who want safer bike routes into and around downtown to attend the meeting and voice their support for the project.

WHERE: Boston City Hall, Room 801

WHEN: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 6:00 PM

The proposal for Phase 1 of the bike trail calls for continuous bi-directional protected bike lanes along Staniford Street, Causeway Street, Commercial Street, and Atlantic Ave in the West End, Bullfinch Triangle, and North End neighborhoods. Additional sections would be constructed during Phase 2. You can review detailed plans and meeting minutes from past public meetings on the project here.

According to Connect Historic Boston,

Bicycling through downtown is confusing and uncomfortable with one-way streets, narrow lanes, and lack of bicycle accommodations. Increasing bicycle trips from transit hubs to popular destinations, workplaces, or homes would help reduce congestion on transit by providing an alternative to one stop transfers on the subway sysem.


The Connect Historic Boston Trail will be a family-friendly bicycle loop around downtown Boston, providing access to major transit hubs, regional trails, and National Park Service visitor centers and National Park Service Partner sites.



[caption id="attachment_21718" align="aligncenter" width="682"] The proposed network. Image: Connect Historic Boston[/caption]

Connect Historic Boston is a partnership between the National Park Service and Boston Transportation Department to make biking, walking, and taking the T to National Park sites and other destinations in downtown Boston a safe and attractive alternative to driving. For people who ride bikes for transportation in and around downtown, the bike trail will provide a more comfortable route protected from car traffic that will provide more direct connections between destinations than currently allowed by the mostly one-way street grid.


MassBike Executive Director David Watson was a member of the Connect Historic Boston Advisory Group which was instrumental in moving the project forward. Funding for the project, which also includes pedestrianizing the Blackstone Block and Joy Street, comes from a Federal Highway Administration TIGER grant.




[caption id="attachment_21743" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] When complete, the Connect Historic Boston bike trail will probably look similar to the Indianpolis Cultural Trail, an innovative family-friendly biking and walking trail that connects downtown with historic areas outside downtown. With separate spaces for bikes and pedestrians, the trail provides safe biking routes for residents and tourists alike. Image courtesy of Indycog.[/caption]

MassBike Responds To Snow Removal Controversy

[caption id="attachment_21662" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Bikes use the Southwest Corridor and other DCR paths for transportation every day of the year. Photo: Cycle Style Boston[/caption]

UPDATE 2/19: Great news - MassBike is very pleased to announce that DCR has agreed to convene a meeting. Yesterday, Commissioner Jack Murray and I had a productive conversation about the need to address both snow removal and bicycle transportation policy. This is a very welcome step toward better aligning the needs of people who ride bikes for transportation with DCR policy. Further details about the meeting will be announced shortly.

---

Over the weekend, a series of emails was made public depicting an exchange between various DCR personnel and a bicycle commuter regarding bicycling conditions on the Southwest Corridor. The emails contain a number of controversial statements that have caused major concern among the bicycling community and need to be addressed.

MassBike takes the issue of snow removal on off-road pathways - and all bicycle facilities - very seriously because many people who ride bikes rely on them for their daily transportation 365 days a year. In many cases, pathways like the Southwest Corridor or the Charles River bike paths are the only safe route for people who ride bikes where parallel roadways are unsafe or uncomfortable for bicycling. Furthermoreall state agencies should be unequivocally committed to well-established state laws and policies, such as the Healthy Transportation Compact, that support increased bicycle use for everyday transportation.

This is why I have written DCR Commissioner Jack Murray to request a meeting to address the issues raised in these emails and ensuing public discussion. I appreciate the challenges that DCR and other agencies have faced this winter, and can understand the frustrations expressed by both DCR and bicyclists, but we have the opportunity to shift this discussion to a real dialogue.

I have recommended a wide range of groups encompassing the bicycle, pedestrian, and parks advocacy communities be at the table. The goal of the meeting should be recommendations to better align the needs of people who ride bikes with DCR policy, and set expectations appropriately for both DCR personnel and the bicycling community.

My hope is for a frank and open discussion covering the snow clearance expectations and needs of cyclists and other user groups, and DCR's policies and practices regarding snow clearance and bicycle transportation.

- David

In Allston, A Community Speaks Up And Wins A Better Bridge

[caption id="attachment_21603" align="alignnone" width="691"] Image: MassDOT[/caption]

In Allston, what started as a routine bridge deck replacement project turned into a major community effort to transform a long-reviled and unsafe roadway into a more livable, human-scaled city street. When MassDOT presented it's plans in June 2013 to replace the deck of the Cambridge Street bridge, which spans the Massachusetts Turnpike, shortcomings in the proposed design became a call to action for neighborhood organizing efforts. A coalition of neighborhood groups, residents, and advocacy groups, including MassBike, came together over the past nine months to press MassDOT and elected officials for a better design.

People who ride bikes will see major improvements right away. Dedicated on-street accommodations will be implemented from the start of construction, anticipated to start this Spring, and be maintained throughout. Currently, there are no dedicated bicycle facilities on Cambridge Street.

[caption id="attachment_21615" align="alignleft" width="300"] Cambridge Street now: inhospitable for all users. Photo: Matthew Danish[/caption]

Galen Mook, Organizer of Allston-Brighton Bikes, says of the community organizing process, "This was a collaboration between residents, advocacy groups, elected officials, and the project managers who all spent a lot of time thinking and retooling the design, who came out on several occasions for site visits with the elected officials and project managers, and to the residents who met nearly every week over the course of several months to strategize how to publicize and effect change on this project."

[caption id="attachment_21608" align="alignright" width="151"] Proposed design for Cambridge Street. Images: MassDOT[/caption]

At several public meetings, hundreds of residents came out to speak in favor of better access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, slower speeds for car traffic, and design elements that would make Cambridge Street an attractive and inviting gateway to the Allston Village community.

Describing the current nature of Cambridge Street, Mook adds, "this is one of the trickiest stretches of road in Boston, a relic of the highway era of the 1960s, when the MassPike used to terminate in Allston before it went all the way downtown. This road is overbuilt and has certainly outlived its function."

The outcome of this collaborative process is a design which incorporates important elements the community asked for, including:

  • Physically separated cycletracks at sidewalk level away from motor vehicle traffic.

  • A pedestrian crosswalk at Mansfield Street, midway across the span of the bridge.

  • Streetscape improvements including new lighting and fencing.


In addition to these specific elements, the community won a larger commitment from MassDOT to give a full evaluation of existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities between North Allston and Allston Village and part of the upcoming MassPike straightening project. With continued advocacy and involvement from community members, cycletracks may eventually extend along Cambridge Street uninterrupted between Harvard Ave and the Charles River.

The fact that MassDOT has made significant improvements to the design presented in June 2013 is a true testament to local community members' tireless advocacy efforts and to the department's responsiveness and forward-thinking. MassBike helped by spreading the word about public meetings, signing onto the community's multiple letters, and submitting a comment letter to MassDOT after working directly with organizers and project managers to make specific recommendations that address safety concerns for bicyclists.


You can read our letter to MassDOT in full here. The letter makes the following general recommendations:

  • Address design details at the Cambridge Street/Harvard Ave/Franklin Street intersection to provide ease of use for bicyclists and alleviate conflict points among motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

  • Continue the eastbound cycletrack up to Lincoln Street and provide a two-stage left turn box for bicyclists.

  • Provide signage and queuing space to alleviate conflict points between pedestrians and bicyclists at the mid-bridge crossing.

  • Implement pedestrian and bicycle shared use path pavement markings from Harvard Avenue/ Franklin Street intersection to the pedestrian bridge.

  • Provide "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs in both directions along Cambridge Street, acknowledging that when the cycletrack is in place, some bicyclists will choose to ride in the Cambridge Street roadway to access Highgate Street.


View the full proposal and find out more information at Fix Cambridge Street.

MassBike Tackles Seasonal Worker Bike Safety On Cape Cod

[caption id="attachment_21539" align="alignnone" width="800"] Photo: MassBike[/caption]

Cape Cod is fondly regarded as a top bike-friendly destination in Massachusetts with its rail trails, scenic byways, and frequent organized rides. But local residents and officials have recently been sounding the alarm about bicycle safety for the thousands of seasonal workers who flock to the area every summer to work in restaurants and resorts.

MassBike and it's partners on the Cape are looking to find solutions to tackle this growing safety issue.

Every summer, student workers come from countries across the globe with special temporary work visas to meet the seasonal surge in demand for service industry employees. Without access to a car, many of these workers take to bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. This poses a safety concern because these workers are often out late at night when their shifts end, riding bikes of questionable condition, without lights, wearing dark clothing, and unfamiliar with the rules of the road.

Seasonal worker bicycle safety was one of the issues that emerged at last November's Cape Cod Bicycle Summit, and one which MassBike and it's partners throughout the Cape are working to address. After the Cape Cod Bike Summit, an ad hoc coalition bringing together county officials, the regional transit agency, law enforcement, bicycle advocates, and public health officials was formed to address issues around bicycle safety.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson recently attended a coalition meeting in Barnstable convened by Sheila Lyons, Barnstable County Commissioner. Other meeting attendees included MassBike Cape Cod and Islands Chapter President Rob Miceli, Orleans Police Department Detective Kevin Higgins, Barnstable County Sean DPHE Environmental Specialist Sean O'Brien, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Project Manager Julie Quintero-Schulz, Cape Cod Commission Planner Martha Hevenor, Barnstable County Mass In Motion coordinator Vaira Harik, and others.

Many ideas to boost seasonal work bicycle safety were explored, but discussion focused on four main areas of interest:

  1. Talking about bike safety directly with seasonal workers at orientation sessions and outreach events.

  2. Distributing bike lights and helmets either directly to seasonal workers or to landlords and business owners who often supply bicycles for seasonal workers.

  3. Developing effective strategies for law enforcement to educate and enforce rules of the road for both drivers and bicyclists.

  4. Building driver awareness by sending out a bicycle safety pamphlet with the vehicle excise tax mailing and other strategies.


The goal of the coalition is to develop specific safety programs that will be rolled out for the upcoming Summer 2014 tourist season. Stay tuned for updates.

Vote For MassBike!



In case you haven't already heard, Massbike has been nominated for the People's Choice Advocacy Award, presented by the Alliance for Biking & Walking and Bicycling Magazine. We're honored to be nominated for the "Oscars of bicycle advocacy" -- and we need your help to win! The award will be presented at the National Bike Summit on March 3, 2014.

Will you take just one minute to vote for us?

MassBike is your only statewide bicycle advocacy organization, working towards better biking across the Bay State since 1977. Our nomination recognizes the successful completion of the first full year of our Bikeable Communities Program in 2013. We've trekked around the Commonwealth to work in 37 communities on projects ranging from Complete Streets trainings to bikeability assessments to advisory committees to GIS mapping -- and more!

If we win, the recognition will help MassBike leverage additional support to bring the Bikeable Communities Program to more locations across Massachusetts.

Please spread the word to your networks by forwarding this email, posting on Facebook, tweeting, or using any other channels you have. If you use Twitter, be sure to mention @MassBike in your tweet, and we'll give you a shout out.


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